There are three bowl games on New Year’s Day 2013 that pit the SEC against the Big Ten, and one of them is the Outback Bowl which has South Carolina (10-2) taking on Michigan (8-4). While there is no doubt that the SEC is the superior conference, none of the three matchups are a BCS bowl, so the Big Ten might be in with a chance vs. a rather disinterested opponent. The line on the Outback Bowl is South Carolina -6 with the total is set at 48.
MICHIGAN – SOUTH CAROLINA OUTBACK BOWL BETTING LINE:
OPEN: S. CAROLINA -3.5 | CURRENT: S. CAROLINA -6 | O/U: 48
1. Why Michigan will cover the spread: Michigan will cover this spread if its offensive line plays as well as it did during the regular season, when it allowed the fewest sacks in the Big Ten with 15 and allowed the Wolverines to rush for a nice 187.3 yards per game in 4.9 yards per carry. However, that was vs. slower Big Ten defenses and Michigan must now deal with SEC defensive player of the year Jadeveon Clowney, who had 13 sacks this season and 21 tackles for loss.
If the Wolverines are successful though, it could set up some trick plays now that Michigan has two dual threats in the backfield in Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson, with Robinson starting at running the last two games while he was recovering from an elbow injury.
2. Why South Carolina will cover the spread: South Carolina will cover the spread if it can run the ball well, something that the Gamecocks were unable to do after the unfortunate season-ending injury to Marcus Lattimore. In the three games since the Lattimore injury, South Carolina has averaged 136.3 rushing yards on a mere 3.2 yards per carry, and those already modest numbers are padded by a 171-yard, 4.2 yards per carry effort vs. Division II Wofford.
If the Gamecocks do not rediscover their ground game, then Connor Shaw will be throwing against a Michigan pass defense that ranked second in the entire country allowing only 155.2 yards per game.
3. Total Talk: We like Michigan to not only cover the spread but also to eke out an outright upset. As mentioned, keeping Clowney out of the backfield is key but we feel that the Michigan running game will do enough to slow down the South Carolina pass rush, and even on passing plays, both Gardner and Robinson have the speed to elude rushers, unlike other stationary pocket passers in the Big Ten.
Also, we feel that when Lattimore was injured, he took the Cocks’ running game down with him so look for Shaw to throw the ball more than even Steve Spurrier probably would like. We do expect a bit of a higher scoring game than the total suggests, as Shaw caught a huge break here with the Wolverines’ starting cornerback J.T. Floyd being suspended for breaking an unspecified team rule.
4. Betting Trends for Michigan/S.Carolina: Michigan allowed 207 rushing yards while nearly upsetting undefeated Ohio State in the season finale, but the Wolverines are 5-1 ATS their last six games after allowing more than 200 rushing yards their previous game. The ‘over’ is 4-1 in the Gamecocks’ last five games overall.
Michigan 27 – South Carolina 24
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